(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) Sharifa bint Mohammed Al Hakbani, a 12-year-old girl from Saudi Arabia, is at the Sharjah International Book Fair (SIBF) with a story of survival. Her book, "In Spite of Pain Hope Remains", is the story of a girl who survived cancer... and it's her autobiography.
Sharifa wrote the book while she was in bed, suffering from cancer. The inspirational story tells what she went through while fighting the deadly disease and how she had a hope in life despite her pain and suffering.
Sharifa notes down her tremendous determination and her keenness to convey her experience to others and make it an evidence that the will and the strength of determination cannot be defeated by anything in this life.
She begins her book, acknowledging that she was fed up with life, weakened by some circumstances. But she had a spirit within that gave her strength and patience, one that told her that she deserved the beauty of life around her.
Speaking to Khaleej Times on the sidelines of her book-signing ceremony at the SIBF, Sharifa talked about her experience of writing about her illness. "My story has been admired by the children who go through same illness, because it encourages them to survive the pain and fear with anticipation and hope."
She said that she is now an ambassador for cancer fighters in Saudi Arabia. "I want the readers to realise the suffering from leukaemia through my story. I used to consider it a disease of death, without feeling that I would become one of its victims."
In the book, Sharifa explains how she was diagnosed with the disease, after she felt pain in the pelvic area. After a series of examinations, she was diagnosed with anaemia. Her condition deteriorated after that and she lost her ability to walk. After entering a hospital in Riyadh, her parents were notified that she was a cancer patient.
"The doctor and nurse gave me an explanation of the disease and the stages of treatment. They told me that I will undergo chemotherapy, which will cause hair loss. I refused the treatment in the beginning, especially as I had a beautiful hair. But I was surprised at night to see my father and brothers entering my room with their hair shaved, So I decided at the time to fight this disease for my family that I loves."
Sharifa spoke about her surgery and when she underwent the chemotherapy. It was the most difficult time of her life as she was away from her family and friends. Her hair seemed to be falling. During this period, her friends also started a new school year.
The young girl confirms that cancer does not mean that the life of the person has stopped. It's a beginning but in another way. She said that documenting her images in social media has helped a great deal in her healing because she received a lot of prayers messages, encouraging words and praising comments from people across the world.
"Cancer taught me that life is nicer with a little hope, and that optimism only comes from confident souls that are satisfied with faith in fate and trust in God. My goal is to change society's perception of the disease and see compassion in the eyes of the society. Cancer patients need psychological and moral support, and they should be called cancer fighters," she concluded.